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K-pop idols face growing pains

By Ock Hyun-ju

  • Published : Oct 31, 2014 - 00:04
  • Updated : Oct 31, 2014 - 00:04

Looking at K-pop idols’ flawless dance moves and singing skills, coupled with their adorable appearances, fans sometimes mistake them for dolls, not human beings.

The seemingly perfect idols, however, are people like us who seek someone to fall in love with, dream of having a happy family and struggle to make life decisions.

Recently, news about idols’ marriages and defections sent shockwaves through the K-pop scene. But these stories only show that the idols, too, face growing pains.


Sunye, the leader of K-pop girl group Wonder Girls, became the first idol to get married and become a mother.

She married James Park, a Korean-Canadian missionary, in January 2013 and gave birth to a daughter later that year.

“I would like to thank my fans. Some fans would feel that it is too abrupt, but I hope you can trust and bless me,” she wrote on her official fan site in late 2012, announcing her marriage plans.

After Sunye tied the knot, Sohee left the Wonder Girls, and the remaining members have been carrying out individual projects since then.

The Wonder Girls promised not to disband, but fans are growing anxious about the delayed reunion of the group.


Another idol soon to tie the knot is Sungmin, a member of K-pop boy band Super Junior.

He confirmed in mid-October that he will marry actress Kim Sa-eun in December.

“The news went viral while I was thinking about how to tell you, E.L.F, my precious friends and those who love me. I wanted to let you know myself. I am really sorry that you had to find out about it through the reports,” he wrote on Super Junior’s official website.

Sungmin expressed his appreciation to his fans, his bandmates and his label SM Entertainment for respecting his decision.

Though most of Super Junior’s fans supported his decision, some are wary about the negative impact that his marriage may have on the group.

Fans fantasize about the stars as potential partners, so when they get married it can lead them to turn their backs on their idols, K-pop insiders speculate.

Sungmin said he will continue to pursue activities as a member of Super Junior, but his focus on his family might lead the group to put their group activities on hold.

Idols getting married is shocking news, and it’s also shocking when they suddenly leave their group.

At the center of the controversy is SM Entertainment, the nation’s largest entertainment agency by sales.


Jessica, a member of K-pop idol group Girls’ Generation, was dismissed from the group by SM in October.

The starlet claimed that she was forced out by the label without any prior warning. But SM stated that Jessica put priority on her fashion business rather than the group’s activities, which it claimed was the reason it released her.

She is not the only one who’s had a conflict with the agency.


K-pop sensation EXO’s Luhan filed a lawsuit against SM, demanding the termination of his contract. He was the third idol to sue SM following former EXO member Kris and Super Junior member Hankyung.

Kris and Hankyung took issue with unjust distribution of profit and the alleged exploitation of their basic human rights.

Surely, the incidents show that the idols also suffer, think seriously about their future, take on challenges, and sometimes have to make difficult choices. It all makes the idols more real to us.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)